1968 Gator Bowl



Gator Bowl -- Jacksonville, Fla.

Missouri's third trip to the Gator Bowl game was its first that ended in victory--and it came convincingly, 35-10 over Alabama.

The Tigers were on a two-game losing streak as they prepared for the Crimson Tide, national champs just two years before and ranked 12th in the country. The result was the most lopsided bowl victory in Missouri's history and Paul "Bear" Bryant's worst defeat at Alabama to date in his 11-year career.

Led by Greg Cook, who tallied 179 yards rushing and a touchdown and Terry McMillan, with 76 yards and three scores, Mizzou gained 402 yards of total offense, all rushing. The offense put on its show while Alabama was held to less than 100 total yards. The Tiger defense sacked Tide quarterbacks 12 times. `Bama's only touchdown came on defense, a 38-yard interception return by Donnie Sutton.

Despite complete domination for three quarters, Missouri led just 14-7 going into the fourth. The Tigers then turned it on. Following an interception by All-American Roger Wehrli, his second of the game, McMillan scored from 2 yards out and made the lead 21-10. On the Tigers' next possession, Cook rambled 37 yards and put Mizzou up 28-10. Dennis Poppe then returned an interception 47 yards for the final margin.

Alabama came into the game seeking its ninth consecutive national top-10 finish. What it got instead was its first loss to a Big Eight team, and only Bear Bryant's fifth loss by more than seven points in his 140-game career.

MU's performance, which boosted it to ninth in the polls, inspired Bryant to say, "They ran up and down the field as though they were playing a barbers' college team."

The victory landed the 8-2-1 Tigers in sixth place in the national polls, just behind Big Eight champion Nebraska, which had beaten the Tigers earlier in the year on a late field goal.

MISSOURI 7 7 0 21 -- 20
FLORIDA 0 7 0 3 -- 18

M -- McMillan 4 run (Sangster kick)
A -- Sutton 38 pass interception return (Dean kick)
M -- McMillan 5 run (Sangster kick)
A -- FG Dean 25
M -- McMillan 2 run (Sangster kick)
M -- Cook 37 run (Sangster kick)
M -- Poppe 47 pass interception return (Sangster kick)
Att. -- 68,011

MU Alabama
First Downs 21 6
Rushing Yards 402 45
Passing Yards 0 77
Return Yards 112 46
Passes 0-6-2 7-27-2
Punts-Avg. 5-36 10-42
Fumbles 2 0
Penalty Yards 29 14

RUSHING -- MU: Cook 27-179, McMillan 18-76, McBride 18-68, Harrison 11-58, Staggers 7-19. `BAMA: Jilleba 5-20, Moore 5-10.
PASSING -- MU: McMillan 0-6-2-0. `BAMA: Hunter 7-25-1-68, Hayden 0-1-1-0, Kelly 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING -- MU: none. `BAMA: Ranager 2-47.